Simple Lighting Techniques for Photographers By Tony Corbell

1 hr 5 min
Difficulty Difficulty Difficulty

Capturing great portraits is all about understanding how to manipulate the quality, quantity, and direction of light. Learn how the pros use a variety of light shaping tools to create fantastic portraits every time, and in any kind of situation.

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Join Tony Corbell as he introduces the class and then kicks things off with a portrait shoot using an umbrella as a light source.
Learn how to use the 60" Octabank as a wonderful light source for soft, smooth portraits.
The softbox is the go-to tool for lighting individual portraits. Tony shows you a number of ways to use this versatile light source.
After learning different ways to use individual lights on their own, Tony teaches you how you can bring together a main light, fill light, and accent lights to create a beautiful portrait.
Understanding how to use an incident light meter will allow you to get your exposure right every single time.
Direct sunlight can be too harsh for portraits, but using a diffusion panel to filter the light falling on to your subject will allow you to shoot outdoors on the brightest of days.
A speedlight can be used to add light to a scene and enable you to light your subject to match the ambient light of the sky.
Learn how to properly use a reflector as a primary light source to increase the light falling on your subject's face and close the gap on the bright highlights for stunning portraits in natural light.
Sometimes we need to take light away to open up the shadows on the face and discover beautiful light for portrait work.
Tony shares some parting words and ties together all the lessons learned in this course.
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Meet your instructor

Tony Corbell

1 Course


Tony has been very fortunate having photographed three U.S. presidents, 185 World Leaders, 65 Nigerian Heads of State, about 600 brides and grooms, a couple of NASA astronauts and lots of famous and not so famous faces. He has spoken at almost 400 seminars and workshops nationally and internationally and is the recipient of the highest ho...

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    1. Profile photo of Paul Howard Paul Howard

      Tony is fantastic! Very clear and simple instruction for some amazing results. Terrific course and highly recommended! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    2. Profile photo of rob bosley rob bosley

      Excellent, no nonsense, quick and sharp lessons. Really to the point. I would like to hear more from him. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    3. Profile photo of netusername netusername

      Wow Tony Corbell really delivered on this one!! Great job!!! Hope to see from him sooner then later. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    4. Profile photo of Norm Yip Norm Yip

      I thought the course was wonderful. There was so much information. I had personally attended seminar conducted by well many known photographer. but I have learned more watching this series than I have learned at many of the seminars together. This is because you cannot always get the best seating and some times you missed something that was said. Watching the seminar on my computer screens gives me the best place where I can learn the most. I can also replay the program in case I missed something. These program are awesome. N. Yip

    5. Profile photo of gadmasta gadmasta

      This was an amazing insite to photography on a bigger scale. The lesson was at a level that was not at all baffling and I did’t need to keep rewinding segments to understand the jagan. I think I need to watch a course on using a light meter… And metering the ambient light from my camera. Other than that I feel I learnt so much.

      Thank you guys.

      Cassius (London UK) —- Yes, please post my feedback

    6. Profile photo of dhbphotographs dhbphotographs

      Excellent course. I never really understood how to properly light a subject, and this course explained it in simple, understandable terms, using examples with quoted exposures. The part on how to use a meter was one of the most helpful. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    7. Profile photo of bluetaylor9 bluetaylor9

      I don’t normally give feed back but this course was great – the information was put in a very simple but passionate way – the lighting examples were just right and inspiring and the photographs taken were really excellent. This course is a must for any beginner/ improver and anyone who wants to develop thier lighting skills. I like this mans teaching style and want to see more from him after seeing this course! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    8. Profile photo of alex606 alex606

      Great work ! In a short period of time you explained how to work with light in studio and outdoor. I learned a lot and enjoyed watching this video. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    9. Profile photo of jawsh3539 jawsh3539

      I thought this was a very well executed training course. The instructor explained things in a very clear and easy to understand manner. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    10. Profile photo of lencurrie lencurrie

      In the section with outdoors flash, he took a meter reading of the sky and it read f/11 at 1/800th.. which created silhouettes of the trees. But then he added a flash and all of a sudden the trees 100’s of feet away were lit up?

      I’m thinking he must have stopped down to to 1/200th or 1/250th unless he used high speed sync eh?

      My own preference but I think it would have looked really cool if he kept the same ratio at 1/250th and kept the trees as silhouettes..

      Great course though over-all.. especially liked the meter reading information, would enjoy more of that. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    11. Profile photo of asylvest asylvest

      I really appreciate the information I’ve gained in Tony’s explanation on lighting. Many times, it takes someone saying things in a different way to explain some simple aspects of a subject. I believe he has done it with this. Thank you. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    12. Profile photo of Bryon Wiley Bryon Wiley

      Very clear instruction.
      Well done…. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    13. Profile photo of Cheryl Walker Cheryl Walker

      Excellent! Great information clearly presented in an interesting way! Thank you! Will look for more from Tony! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    14. Profile photo of lkralston lkralston

      Tony Corbell is an easy to understand teacher. Would have loved learning how to balance daylight & speedlights on manual though. I do not have TTL anything.
      I am loving these courses. Money well spent!
      Linda Ralston
      lkralston —- Yes, please post my feedback

    15. Profile photo of Joseph Spoto Joseph Spoto

      I really enjoyed this class. I shy away from shooting people because I don’t have a good understanding of lighting. This really simplified things. There were many good points but there were 2 gems that I came away with. One was-don’t try to please other photographers, try to please yourself. The other was the principle of subtractive lighting. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    16. Profile photo of phillipsjosh2415 phillipsjosh2415

      Just finished watching Simple Lighting Techniques for Photographers by Tony Corbell. Man, what an eye opener. He explained some things about flash and outdoor lighting in a way I had never heard before. I plan to get out immediately and practice these techniques. Very good course. Thanks for putting it on the site. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    17. Profile photo of billbuckleyphoto billbuckleyphoto

      This tutorial rocks. Covers basics of light really well and the tools you need to get different effects. Why a certain light modifier is being used, what situations call for what kind of lighting–really excellent, and Tony Corbell is exceedingly good at explaining what he’s doing. Even though I’ve been an outdoor photographer for years, I learned a ton of useful info here. Trying to expand my ability to shoot on location without carrying a truckload of gear but being able to shoot in any lighting conditions, this tutorial, along with, frankly, most of the ones I’ve watched on Kelby, have made my year’s subscription possibly the best $200 I’ve ever spent.
      Thanks and keep ‘em coming. And please have more Corbell videos (and that’s coming from a guy who can’t wait for more Tim Wallace episodes too!

    18. Profile photo of Joseph Zelazny Joseph Zelazny

      I have been with Kelby training for many years. This is one of the best courses , would like to see more.

      Joe —- Yes, please post my feedback

    19. Profile photo of Jonathan Jonathan

      A great clear course on lighting. I didn’t think I’d take as much away as I did. Will be keeping the techniques in mind on my next shoot. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    20. Profile photo of Juan Carlos Guzman Juan Carlos Guzman

      Great tutorial, is really clear explanation from Tony… —- Yes, please post my feedback

    21. Profile photo of Shawn Hamilton Shawn Hamilton

      Great course! Straight to the point and explained in layman`s terms. Simple lighting techniques indeed. Really enjoyed his natural light segments.
      Thanks —- Yes, please post my feedback

    22. Profile photo of melw49 melw49

      Tony Corbell passion for his craft and his ability to convey his message is brilliant. I gained a bunch of great points form this course. I think I will watch it several more times just to make sure I have it right. The subtractive light segment was particularly brilliant as it wasn’t something I had really thought a lot about. I am looking forward to trying this technique out as soon as I can. Thank you Tony, very inspirational! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    23. Profile photo of Ray Warren Ray Warren

      This course is fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone. It is full of great information presented in a very understandable way. Tony Corbell is obviously a master of his craft and a very good instructor. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    24. Profile photo of cparedesb cparedesb

      it doesn’t get any better than Tony Corbell. congrats. kelby is getting better and better. Corbell a luxurious instructor for KT —- Yes, please post my feedback

    25. Profile photo of 1377356 1377356

      Awesome course. Great explanations with out any fluff. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    26. Profile photo of Peter Blyth Peter Blyth

      Tony’s art is explaining lighting so it just makes sense! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    27. Profile photo of Linda King Linda King

      Tony Corbell is an excellent instructor. Love the way he systematically addresses each light, demonstrating that light’s advantages, then moves to orchestrate them together. By the time he has the whole group of lights working together the results are absolutely beautiful. ~Linda R. King —- Yes, please post my feedback

    28. Profile photo of rnuffer rnuffer

      I never leave feedback, however this course was exceptional! Thank you Tony. I love your teaching style and I can’t wait for your next Kelby Training course. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    29. Profile photo of jsmithbaxter jsmithbaxter

      This guy can really teach. He knows his stuff and he really knows how to pitch it. All of this presentation was clear, succinct and so illuminating. I may have to re-take the course several times to fully digest all his wisdom but I am already aware that my increased knowledge of the manipulation of available light sources will surely improve my photography —- Yes, please post my feedback

    30. Profile photo of suezeeq12 suezeeq12

      What a great course! I had a lot of AHA moments watching this. Thanks for speaking to the beginners who are just entering the world of lighting. Wish there were more Tony courses – really enjoyed his teaching style. Looking forward to more.

      Would love to learn how to effectively use the light meter and also maybe how to choose the particular type of lights to use (speedlites, alien bees, etc.). Thanks! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    31. Profile photo of sirwamz sirwamz

      Tony’s natural light skills are spot on! He got really great result using minimal equipment. Thanks for bringing him. He brings back many basics that that people are rushing through and don’t learn and that’s why they become frustrated later when they can’t understand why they aren’t getting the results they want.

    32. Profile photo of michael829 michael829

      Fantastic! I did some shooting yesterday for a project for a professional photography course that I am enrolled in, and many of the problems that I experienced shooting indoor and outdoor portraits were addressed in this series. Yes, I’m definitely going to do a re-shoot! Kelby Training is a tremendous value, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about photography! Thanks! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    33. Profile photo of jwebster54 jwebster54

      Wonderful course, it shed some light on some things. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    34. Profile photo of Alison Wilson Alison Wilson

      I’ve just signed up for Kelby Training and this was a fabulous start! Tony’s instructions are clear and concise and easy to follow. I was reminded of some important things I’d forgotten with the passage of time and I learned some new techniques and tricks, which I can’t wait to try out. Besides that, Tony was interesting to listen to and held my attention throughout the entire program. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    35. Profile photo of Rodolfo Aguirre Rodolfo Aguirre

      One of the best courses around… straight to to point, keeping simple all concepts and extremely applicable to the field.
      Being part of this training website, best bucks I’ve paid.
      —- Yes, please post my feedback

    36. Profile photo of irishlad57 irishlad57

      Really enjoyed this course i have learned a great deal thank you —- Yes, please post my feedback

    37. Profile photo of James Maddox James Maddox

      What a great group of lessons… This is something for everyone… Good stuff here… —- Yes, please post my feedback

    38. Profile photo of Mark Arundel Mark Arundel

      I like Tony’s style of teaching. I would appreciate seeing more of Tony in the future. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    39. Profile photo of sleepyking sleepyking

      This was the first video I looked at in your course. If you guarantee me , that all other videos have the same quality, I will subscribe right now !! Thx, great !! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    40. Profile photo of kenstandnapp kenstandnapp

      Tony’s course is a great synopsis of using light in the studio and outdoors. He covers the basics that everyone needs to understand. I liked his easygoing teaching style. This is probably a course I will come back to watch again —- Yes, please post my feedback

    41. Profile photo of kenstandnapp kenstandnapp

      Tony’s course is a great synopsis of using light in the studio and outdoors. He covers the basics that everyone needs to understand. I liked his easygoing teaching style. This is probably a course I will come back to watch again —- Yes, please post my feedback —- Yes, please post my feedback

    42. Profile photo of bmjeffries bmjeffries

      Tony is an excellent communicator; simple, relevant and practical. Learned a lot and look forward to seeing him on other sessions. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    43. Profile photo of davidrrogers davidrrogers

      This was one of the very best courses I have seen on Kelby Training. Excellent! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    44. Profile photo of pcimino pcimino

      I really enjoyed this course. Tony is a great instructor and did a very good job explaining key points as well as demonstrating them. He knows his stuff, so add more course from Tony! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    45. Profile photo of Lyman Martin Lyman Martin

      Amazing series of lessons! He really shows the difference a half a step in position can make. From start to finish, this series covers an huge amount of lighting tips in all different scenarios. If you shoot models indoors or outdoors, this is the one series you MUST watch. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    46. Profile photo of

      The studio session was fine – in line with other things I have seen before, so it did not make much for me (although it probably will for others). The outdoor stuff was really good! Simple things, effective and food for thought! Looking forward to seeing more! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    47. Profile photo of Steven G Bottoms Steven G Bottoms

      Just watched Tony Corbell’s lighting course… Fantastic! Learned quite a bit that never really clicked in my years shooting. Very worthwhile and valuable course! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    48. Profile photo of gheceam gheceam

      This has got to be one of the best courses on lighting and really understanding how it works. I’ve been struggling with reflectors and measuring exposure with multiple light sources for 5 years now. This course has brought it all together. Tony Corbell is an amazing teacher. Though he explains fast at times, I had no problem following his explanations having had some experience with ambient, background and highlights in the past. I look forward to perhaps seeing more courses from him on Kelby Training. Thank you. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    49. Profile photo of wwwplc wwwplc

      While I don’t do much studio work, I must say that the instruction in this video provides extremely useful explanation and knowledge of outdoors portraiture. It’s amazing how Tony Corbell has so clearly and visually demonstrated the use of diffuses, reflectors and flashes to control and shape light in this environment. Good teaching. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    50. Profile photo of Jay Boivin Jay Boivin

      I really liked this course. The old school values, using an off camera light meter and what you can expect from the different light boxes, umbrellas were well defined. Explaining how to narrow the gap between the highlights and shadows through various techniques were well explained. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    51. Profile photo of Donald Biresch Donald Biresch

      Excellent course. Concisely delivered with little excess verbiage, yet very understable and to the point. Wish they were all as informative and to the point as this one. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    52. Profile photo of kjeelt kjeelt

      This was just great! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    53. Profile photo of tercerOJO tercerOJO

      This was a very informative course, the instructor was excellent in his delivery and presentation. I would watch anything he puts out in the future. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    54. Profile photo of freshfocus freshfocus

      This course was so so informative! I have watched a couple of others that I wasn’t as impressed with for a few reasons but mainly there was not enough explanation about on why they did what they did. This course explained why they made the charnges, what it would do to the subject, and I loved that he shared camera settings! Excellent course!!!
      —- Yes, please post my feedback

    55. Profile photo of Christy77 Christy77

      Fascinating course! I hope we see more courses on KelbyTraining from Tony soon! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    56. Profile photo of gabytakesphotos gabytakesphotos

      I truly enjoyed his approach to teaching this course. Reminded me of my photography professor in college. No nonsense, but a thorough and informative lesson. It’s apparent that he loves what he does and, unlike so many other photographers, doesn’t mind sharing his wealth of wisdom with new photographers. I hope to see more courses by him. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    57. Profile photo of necielc necielc

      I have to add my kudos to the list. Tony was so easy to understand. It was so well explained. I think lighting is so tricky and I needed this. Thank you! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    58. Profile photo of Equilibrium Equilibrium

      Superb informative in a well laid out format, well explained without being to long winded. One of the better lighting classes. Not to advanced but hearing a pro re iterate simple techniques makes you re think how you do things —- Yes, please post my feedback

    59. Profile photo of mdd770 mdd770

      This was a fantastic course! Short and to the point, but packed full of useful information! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    60. Profile photo of Gary Bonard Gary Bonard

      I love these kelby training segments especially Tony, he is such a good teacher. He is so thought with his explanation of how deferent things work. I have learned so much from Tony and the other instructor, It is just a joe to sit down watch a training video ! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    61. Profile photo of leosimoes leosimoes

      great course! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    62. Profile photo of randypollock randypollock

      First seminar with Tony…simple to understand great examples and this should really help me.

      Now it time to watch them again… —- Yes, please post my feedback

    63. Profile photo of whelsen whelsen

      This course was awesome! It was so clear and gave me a much better view on how to use the different lightning techniques. Thank you very much! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    64. Profile photo of jakeely jakeely

      Excellent, very clear with no nonsense and down to the point.
      I really enjoyed this course —- Yes, please post my feedback

    65. Profile photo of dolphin2421 dolphin2421

      Super fundamentals, great teaching. I am excited to go out and shoot! Thank you, Tony!!!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    66. Profile photo of Kenny Knapp Kenny Knapp

      Tony did a great job explaining the information. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    67. Profile photo of scozz scozz

      Great tutorial, one of the best. Congratulations. Cheers —- Yes, please post my feedback

    68. Profile photo of AussieInLondonUK AussieInLondonUK

      What a great course. I learned a load of new techniques for studio and outdoor lighting. Really recommend this to anyone who wants to keep their kit to the minimum when shooting outdoors with flash and WHAT you need to have for studio lighting algorithms.

      Mark Patten —- Yes, please post my feedback

    69. Profile photo of Pumpkins Pumpkins

      I really enjoyed the information on the light meter,which we do not hear much about. I would like a course on light meters. Thank You —- Yes, please post my feedback

    70. Profile photo of Laura Magnussen Laura Magnussen

      Enjoyed the flow of his teaching method. He was able to get key concepts of lighting across in a understandable and creative way. The whole course was informative but the outdoor lighting segments spoke directly to some of problems I was dealing with. The methods he used were simple, yet the lighting in the photographs was stunning. In the summer I shoot for an outdoors inner city camp for children. My intent as a photographer is to create positive imagery for these children. Some of the issues that I have struggled with, he answered. His most valuable tidbits were the explanation of directional lighting outdoors and his ideas of how lighting for the digital camera is different, the importance of lowering the contrast in the scene to meet the digital camera’s dynamic range. He provided the conceptual framework as well as practical methods that I can apply to resolve the difficult lighting issues that I face at camp. Thank you, Tony. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    71. Profile photo of Ibelieve75 Ibelieve75

      it was great! really walked you thru step by step, finally understood how a hand held light meter works too, Am putting this in my favorites to watch again. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    72. Profile photo of evlens56 evlens56

      thorough and enjoyable

    73. Profile photo of Brent Miller Brent Miller

      Very good class. Very good instructor. Highly recommend. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    74. Profile photo of Pete08 Pete08

      What a great course, thank you Tony and Kelby Training. Enjoyed Tony’s informative and relaxed style of teaching. More of Tony please! More examples would be great, as would more on studio lighting and portraits. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    75. Profile photo of Bre Bre

      Loved this course! I will be watching it again. He’s an awesome instructor and showed so many way to use light that I’ve never thought of. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    76. Profile photo of edgontijo edgontijo

      Excellent course. Simple, clear, objective… To learn, people must go thorough the first steps. And this course deals with the basics of lighting… To more advanced lighting, there will be other courses…

    77. Profile photo of Richard Garrow Richard Garrow

      Hi I am once again blown away by such a great course. I would recommend this to everyone. I did not realize that so many great photographers are wiling to share there knowledge, and explain there craft to the world. I feel so lucky to be able to watch all these terrific video’s. I can only hope that Tony Corbell will grace us with some more of his work. Thank You!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    78. Profile photo of Nacer Nacer

      So many great points. What I appreciate most is I can take several tips from Tony and start using them right now, today. Thank you! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    79. Profile photo of photoshopfanboy photoshopfanboy

      Really solid presentation. So many tips to add to my tool box. Kind of disappointed there was only one presentation available, Tony Corbell is a master photographer/instructor. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    80. Profile photo of JohnLMills JohnLMills

      Loved this course. I’ve gone back and watched it a couple of times. Tony has a real knack for discussing and explaining lighting. Excellent stuff. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    81. Profile photo of 4lulu 4lulu

      Great class! Great stuff for my tool box, thanks! —- No, I’d keep it between us

    82. Profile photo of themurth themurth

      This was a great class. I like how Tony teaches. More, more, more, from Tony! —- Yes, please post my feedback

    83. Profile photo of Jon Hunter Jon Hunter

      I found this course to be very informative, it is probably one of those courses people overlook and skip but if you want to understand lighting techniques then this is the course for you. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    84. Profile photo of Marciebaby Marciebaby

      Wow. This was terrific. Tony is an amazing teacher with so much knowledge. There were a couple of places where he was talking and the video camera stayed focused on him; I wish it would have panned out a little to show what Tony was referring to as he made adjustments to the lights etc. I was fascinated by the way he posed his subjects, too. As a newcomer to the world of photography, I didn’t quite understand why he rotated and angled the subjects the way he did. I would love for Tony to do another course in posing to help us mere mortals learn to see things the way he does. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    85. Profile photo of sunlee79 sunlee79

      This was an excellent summary for both beginners and intermediates into the science of lighting. The instructor showed both the good and the bad of various lighting techniques and the lack of it. —- Yes, please post my feedback

    86. Profile photo of Michael LeClair Michael LeClair

      Tony is an incredible instructor. He speaks very clear and concise and his knowledge of the craft shows through. Thank you for teaching it in a way we can understand and I look forward to getting out and trying some of the techniques you taught.

    87. Profile photo of Derrell Daniels Derrell Daniels

      I watch this class before, but after watching it again I have learn so much more, I am going to repeat this lesson often. It finally sinking in.

    88. Profile photo of

      This was A fun course!! Very simple to understand! I wish I had more to say but I am so excited to get out there and put some of these techniques to work for me! Thank you Tony so much for your knowledge.and thank you kelby training! — Yes please post my feedback!

    89. Profile photo of NicholasOzz NicholasOzz

      Yes Sir Tony is from the old school ( and thats why i love his style ) this course has educated me so much regards lighting and photography in general , i know this is a big call but for my money the best I’ve seen thus far on Kelby , Nice Tony thank you ..

    90. Profile photo of ranna20 ranna20

      Awesome class! Great basic and practical tips. I plan on watching this again.

    91. Profile photo of Joan Erickson Joan Erickson

      Excellent course. Thinking light is a wonderful concept, if mastered it can make a good photographer into a great one. Tony’s approach and simple techniques help me to slow down and think through a photograph and feel less frantic about getting the result I want. Thanks for your calm, thoughtful approach and taking the time to put this course together.

    92. Profile photo of judebaker judebaker

      Outstanding class!! Tony makes everything so clear and understandable. I hope that he is making some more classes for Kelby One.